Creating our stories
The ability to frame and champion a compelling narrative is central to the work of transformational leadership. Great leaders are first and foremost creators of stories that galvanize others, – stories that can invest distant and challenging goals with meaning and appeal. Recent research in neuroscience has shown how human beings are hard-wired for stories. We have story-pattering brains, both constructing and attending to meaning in narrative form. But even without the brain-mapping confirmation of this, the powerful force of stories is evident throughout cultures and throughout history.
Compelling stories capture our imagination, engage us emotionally, and move us. Narrative logic is not the same as factual logic. There is little room for moral appeal in a business case that builds a rational argument around a value proposition. But there is no compelling story, – or convincing call to purpose, – in a narrative that does not appeal in some way to our moral sensibilities.
In fictional stories we are drawn into the challenge faced by the characters. In the stories transformative leaders craft, we are drawn into the challenges we collectively face. As George Akerloft says, “The confidence of a nation or of any large group, tends to revolve around stories… Confidence is not just the emotional state of an individual. It is a view of other people’s confidence, and of other people’s perceptions of other people’s confidence.”
Creative story telling
Creative story telling in the theatre of the new world is more than telling a story creatively. It is telling a creative story. A story we can imagine, a story that connects with our creative interests, a story that excites exploration for ideas, for possibilities, and for opportunities to contribute to creating the story, – to become part of the creative community enterprise and part of the community contributing to imagining and creating the story.